Guy Stephens/WNIJ

NIU Board Approves 3-Percent Campuswide Pay Increase; Cuts Out-Of-State Tuition

A 3-percent pay increase for Northern Illinois University faculty and staff was approved this morning by the NIU Board of Trustees, which then voted to extend the raise to employees in union bargaining units that still are negotiating contracts but have signed off on the increase. NIU Acting President Lisa Freeman recommended the increase in her State of the University address last month for all NIU employees hired before Jan. 1, 2017. That issue, among other concerns, attracted a full house...

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Brian Mackey/WUIS

Rodger Heaton, Illinois Director of Public Safety since January 2015,  will become chief of staff for Gov. Bruce Rauner, effective Monday.

Heaton succeeds Kristina Rasmussen, the former CEO of the conservative-leaning Illinois Policy Institute, who has headed the governor’s staff since July 2017.

Rauner made the announcement Friday.

Matthew Apgar / Daily Chronicle

DeKalb County Judge Robbin Stuckert denied a petition requesting to void a guilty plea for the man convicted of killing Northern Illinois University student Toni Keller.

Judge Stuckert ruled in her 11-page opinion there wasn’t enough evidence to prove that William Curl’s rights were infringed upon throughout the case.

Curl’s lawyer previously argued he had inadequate legal representation before and was not in his right mind when questioned by police. Curl claimed prosecutors coerced him into the guilty plea because they threatened to also charge his son in Keller’s murder.

Updated 4:52 pm

The Trump administration is rolling back the Obama-era requirement that employer-provided health insurance policies cover birth control methods at no cost to women.

According to senior officials with the Department of Health and Human Services, the goal of the new rule is to allow any company or nonprofit group to exclude the coverage for contraception if it has a religious or moral objection.

Jim Meadows/Illinois Public Media

Like most of the Democrats running for governor in Illinois, Ameya Pawer supports a graduated, or progressive, state income tax. The Chicago alderman promoted the idea during a campaign stop at the University of Illinois Urbana campus Thursday.

While Gov. Bruce Rauner says a graduated income tax would hurt the state’s economy, Pawar said it would do just the opposite.

The Chancellor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign said the Trump administration's immigration and visa policies have not hurt the university in recruiting students and employees so far.

Graduate students, faculty, and staff from overseas can come to the country and work on a H-1B visa. The Trump administration suggested curtailing this program.

Chancellor Robert Jones says even with changing news out of the White House, the state’s flagship university is still able to recruit overseas students and employees.

Carl Nelson / WNIJ


Captain Wails & The Harpoons performs "Neon Lights" in WNIJ's Studio A.

Find Captain Wails & The Harpoons at bandcamp.

NIU Releases Latest Safety And Security Report

Oct 5, 2017
Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Northern Illinois University saw a large drop in drug- and alcohol-related reports over the past two years. The 2017-2018 Annual Safety and Security Report also shows a slight increase in sex offenses.

Alcohol related judicial referrals were nearly cut in half, from 301 incidents in 2015 to 170 in 2016, according to the federally-mandated report.

There were 64 fewer drug related judicial referrals reported.

Guy Stephens/ WNIJ

The Illinois legislature passed a new school funding formula this summer. The state’s public schools chief says there’s a lot left to be done to make it work.  

State Superintendent Tony Smith said the new law is a tremendous opportunity.

“[It’s] a model that really moves resources to the kids that need it the most,” he said. “So there’s a fundamental shift toward equity.”     

Active Shooter Drills Take On New Meaning For Schools

Oct 5, 2017
Hal Frain / Flickr (CC X 2.0)

For years, schools throughout Illinois have been required to hold active shooter drills, but those drills are taking on more meaning for teachers and administrators whose role includes keeping children safe. 

Lawmaker Says Cook County Soda Tax Is A Statewide Concern

Oct 5, 2017
Flickr/Boroda

Downstate Illinoisans should be concerned about Cook County’s controversial sales tax on sweetened beverages, even though they don’t have to pay it, according to State Sen. Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet.

Rose has introduced a bill to overturn the penny-per-ounce sales tax that took effect in Cook County last March.

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News From NPR

On most days from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Mary Grimes can be found pacing along a crowded street in Orlando, Fla., with clipboards in both hands.

"Can I have five minutes of your time?" the 58-year-old says to a parade of passers-by. Those who are in a rush, she quickly wishes well; the others, Grimes directs to a blue and yellow form, reciting her spiel and soliciting a signature from each.

The wildfires in Northern California cut across a wide swath of the state — including dozens of school districts, hundreds of schools and hundreds of thousands of students. At one point, classes were canceled for 260,000 students in 600 schools.

And while schools are slowly coming back on line, there remain many that may not resume classes for days or even weeks.

A congressional candidate in Florida drew a little ridicule this week.

Bettina Rodriguez Aguilera, one of the Republicans in the crowded field in Florida's 27th Congressional District, said in 2009 that she was taken aboard a spaceship when she was 7 years old.

She does not mean at Disney World.

"I went in," she says in a 2009 Spanish language interview that appeared on YouTube this week. "There were some round seats that were there, and some quartz rocks that controlled the ship, not like airplanes.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Spain's prime minister says he'll fire the government officials of Catalonia and hold new elections there within six months. Spain's Senate will have to approve that plan next week.

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